Available as a painting and an online painting course. To gladden the heart using colour as therapy and painting as meditation.
I’ve seen it all now. We succeeded in banning plastic straws a few months ago, and today I saw something on social media called The Cuddle Curtain. It was a huge sheet of plastic with two sets of arm ‘condoms’ which two people having a hug could stand either side of and ‘hug’ each other, sheathed in plastic. This world will be entirely awash in plastic, due to all the masks, gloves, PPE, etc. I personally am aghast that someone could think a ‘cuddle curtain’ would be something to celebrate. Plastic is the virus on the planet.
There is something happening. The clarity of mind that comes from a deep connection to the land where I live. With so few distractions or rushing, much deeper sleep and no alcohol whatsoever during this lockdown, I have come to know this part of the earth better than I have ever known anything. I walk above the sea on the cliff path and especially at high tide, when the sea is lapping against the edge of the land, I can feel a sort of fizzing in the air, and the faintest sound of bubbles. There is an acquiescence and a sort of peace. Even more in awe of nature, I can communicate with it and I can feel a fusion with it.
Is it a form of Stockholm syndrome? I understand how people can fall in love with their captors, because it is an instinct of survival. At first when my freedom was taken away, I suffered headaches and psychic pain. I knew that the only way I could heal was through giving myself up to nature. I lay down every day in the bluebell woods above the sea, away from sight, and allowed nature to soothe me, and finally understood that only Gaia could be my healer. Now the colours of flowers are brighter than ever and I stop and commune with them on my walks. I have never been any good at gardening because I always feel I need to apologise to plants if I disrupt their lives. I can plant things, and sweep, but not much more.
I still miss so much, and especially my daughter with her radiant joy, and our shared laughter and friendship. I miss us together in the back garden of the Stag and cold white wine. But wine is only a celebration for me. I have promised myself that I want to wait until there is something to celebrate before I drink it.
Today refugees crossed the channel again in a dinghy. Pett Level seems to be a favourite landing beach. There were 25 in all including a family of six. I hope they get the asylum they seek. It made me so aware of how close we are to France and how close I am to possibilities.
A Zoom meeting with my lovely friends in different countries tonight and some art and writing therapy. We talked of this dystopia we are all living in and our shared common experiences. Every week we discuss the different aspects of processing this new territory, and the one thing that unites us and that is our shared creativity. It is more vital than ever.
Without the usual distractions in life, we are being forced to confront our own existential discomfort. The little things we do in life to distract from these things are coping mechanisms. Some people are so addicted to being busy, they are for the first time ever, confronting their issues. And on top of this, the questions arise as to what is really happening. Why are healthy people being quarantined? Is there a deep state agenda? So many questions. So much time to ponder them. Little wonder some of us are picking up on the collective consciousness and unease.
May we all find peace in the deep healing that comes from true connection with nature.
A painting about transcendence. A crucible is a container or vessel which is used to melt liquids at very high temperatures. It is also a trial or difficult time from which a transcendence can occur and from which a more beautiful world can emerge.
Heaven forbid that we should commit the cardinal sin of agreeing with or finding resonance with a narrative expounded by someone outside our usual political milieu. We should always question stories by main stream media, after all they are just journalists looking for click-bait. We should always question statistics and listen to other points of view, especially at this crucial time when our rights are being eroded under the guise of coronavirus lockdown. We should examine our own entrenched and intransigent political affiliations and belief systems. My own affiliations are being rocked to their core. I feel like an outlier, but I know there are many like me, but I simply need contact with my friends. Lockdown gives people tunnel vision. It blocks new neural pathways from forming, as we are cut of from physical contact with our friends and in-person conversation, where ideas formulate and bubble through diverse communication. Yesterday I listened to a Dr Dolores Cahill, and found it very interesting, but felt sure she would be vilified in the witch hunt against alternative narrativists because she is in the Irish Freedom Party. At this point in history, I am prepared to listen to anyone with a different viewpoint. This time I am apolitical. It was very rigorous, long and challenged many confirmation biases. I am sure Snopes and others are rapidly writing their diatribes de-bunking Dr Cahill now. She was speaking up against lockdowns, with scientific research as empirical evidence. I have no idea if she is right, but to me it was heartening news.
A quote below from Naomi Klein’s article ‘How big tech plans to profit from the pandemic.’
‘It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces, but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future that is hastily being constructed, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration.
This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future that employs far fewer teachers, doctors and drivers. It accepts no cash or credit cards (under guise of virus control), and has skeletal mass transit and far less live art. It’s a future that claims to be run on “artificial intelligence”, but is actually held together by tens of millions of anonymous workers tucked away in warehouses, data centres, content-moderation mills, electronic sweatshops, lithium mines, industrial farms, meat-processing plants and prisons, where they are left unprotected from disease and hyper-exploitation. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.’
‘A ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.
A situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.
The Crucible is a 1953 play by American playwright Arthur Miller. It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692–93. It was written in the McCarthy era.
McCarthyism was the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term refers to U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression and a campaign spreading fear of communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents. After the mid-1950s, McCarthyism began to decline, mainly due to the gradual loss of public popularity and opposition from the U.S. Supreme court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Warren Court made a series of rulings that helped bring an end to McCarthyism.’
During this time of ‘lockdown’ I have kept myself sane through, as always my painting practice. A few of my paintings below. ‘Crucible’ is a work in progress. I want to create something beautiful out of this trial we are going through. I am reading ‘A More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible’ By Charles Eisenstein, who has become my kind of ‘guru’ in this great unknowing. I feel that The Crucible is such a great metaphor for this time for all the reasons I have quoted above. Female doctors coming up with explanations and questions of conventional narratives are being discredited rampantly. Youtube is taking down videos of people questioning the narrative. Even holistic doctors are being taken down from Facebook and Youtube. It is a witch hunt. When someone questions anything they are called conspiraloons, which in my opinion is a form of gaslighting; making the questioner believe they must be crazy.
At the beginning of lockdown, I jokingly said that by the time the pubs, cafes and bars re-open everyone will have fallen out with their friends on social media. I don’t think I was far off the mark.
Everyone is even more polarised than before. I have noticed that even those who have read Chomsky or Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’ are not prepared to question what is really going on. It seems people are only prepared to question a sequence of events after the fact, from a historical perspective. Or if it is from a safe distance. For example when Bush and Blair et al invaded Iraq, citing weapons of mass destruction, nobody believed them and there were marches and demonstrations in London. It turned out to be fallacious rubbish, and the entire middle east, and subsequently Europe has been de-stabilised ever since. I don’t question that there is a virus, but I question all the stats, ramifications, effects and sinister laws as a result. Are we only prepared to question a narrative that is miles away from us, or that is happening to people of a different race or religion? Are we too afraid to question what is happening to us at the time it is happening? There is no doubt that there is a virus, but if asking questions about how it got there, or if the stats are highly unreliable at best, or why people who die from heart attacks are having Covid on their death certificate, are ‘unreasonable’ questions, then I must have entered a parallel universe. I have seen drone footage by Sussex police hovering over families having picnics in sand dunes yesterday in the glorious sunshine. It feels vital for me to write at this time. Just to have somewhere to put my thoughts, as I don’t want to forget.
As for future travel, I don’t want to go back to my old ways. I am so glad I went back to L.A. when I did. I don’t think I will fly again. When the borders open I am hoping to drive through France and Spain and take my time, looking at places I have lived in and loved. I want to revisit my old beloved Corbieres mountains and then drive to Andalucia. In the mean time, I am being soothed by the sea, the cliff path, the bluebells in spring, the bird song, the rhododendrons, walking, music and painting. Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays especially have been my soundtrack.
“Beware of artists. They mix with all classes of society and are therefore most dangerous.”
Not so very long ago, we were globally concerned about single-use plastics. As a result of this pandemic the world will be even more awash with the stuff . Remember when we were concerned about straws? Now everyone is breathing in plastic micro fibres from masks, even walking alone by the sea, with a mask, breathing in goodness knows what from those masks, driving alone in a car in a mask, using throw away plastic gloves, some wearing plastic visors daily. My friend sent me photo of herself wearing a plastic head and shoulder ‘veil’ headgear thing. She said she bought it on Amazon. She is a fit and healthy woman. She was wearing it to run errands about her privileged seaside town in California.. There are plastic shields in shops, possibly to be installed next in restaurants. Is this really what we want? My answer is a resounding no. The damage done to our beloved planet will be overwhelming.
Sadly my social life is still largely reduced to Zoom, Whatsapp and Facebook. My observations on social media have appalled me. To prove how easily human beings become informants, social media is the perfect signifier and facilitator. How people parrot the same phrases ad nauseum; ‘lockdown is lockdown’, ‘stay home, stay safe’.
People who question the conventional narrative are named ‘right wing’. Hmm, interesting. I have never in my life considered myself right wing. On the contrary. Then I will re-name myself a free thinker. I see how social media leads to binary thinking and has resulted in the death of nuance.
I decided that it is best to stay emotionally detached and simply observe how quickly people will roll over into unquestioning acquiescence. Of course the virus exists, I have no doubt about it, and I have not been following the stats, because I don’t trust the official stories. One only needs to have a limited knowledge of history to know how manipulated narratives are, and how people are so easily controlled through fear. It has always been thus. Fear weakens the immune system. The insidious ramifications of the lockdowns will be possibly more damaging than, if not equal to, the virus itself.
This pandemic has shown me what I have known all along. That society has always been fragile. That I have always felt like an outsider, questioning, slightly removed and somewhat of an anarchist in my thinking. Thank goodness I have always found friends and partners to accompany me along the way. N is as radical as I am, but a quieter person. Thank goodness that this time has given us quality time together. I have learned so much about myself. I am passionate with righteous anger sometimes, but my ability to contemplate nature, beauty and art has kept me sane in these most bizarre of bizarre times.
Charles Eisenstein’s brilliant essay, ‘The Coronation’ has given me a sort of solace in knowing I am not alone in my thinking, and there is so much to mine from his observations, but here are a few thoughts from it.
“As Covid stirs our compassion, more and more of us realize that we don’t want to go back to a normal so sorely lacking it. We have the opportunity now to forge a new, more compassionate normal.” Charles Eisenstein
He is, however, also aware of alternative outcomes and explores his concerns about what might be happening behind the scenes whilst we are all isolating; about long-term loss of freedom of movement; totalitarian world government; civil liberties, freedom of assembly, sovereignty over our bodies, the future of in-person gatherings; technology and surveillance; forcible medical treatment; suspension of habeas corpus; military policing of civilians; possible agendas and manipulation by malevolent global powers; the effects of social isolation, lack of touch and fear on our immune systems and health; biological / chemical / psychological warfare; children dying of hunger, the undiscussed suicide epidemic, auto-immune disease, nuclear armageddon, ecological collapse and other threats to our survival which haven’t catalysed the same response; insulation, isolation, domination, and separation.
“Whether or not current controls are permanent, a precedent is being set for:
The tracking of people’s movements at all times (because coronavirus)
The suspension of freedom of assembly (because coronavirus)
The military policing of civilians (because coronavirus)
Extrajudicial, indefinite detention (quarantine, because coronavirus)
The banning of cash (because coronavirus)
Censorship of the Internet (to combat disinformation, because coronavirus)
Compulsory vaccination and other medical treatment, establishing the state’s sovereignty over our bodies (because coronavirus)
The classification of all activities and destinations into the expressly permitted and the expressly forbidden (you can leave your house for this, but not that), eliminating the un-policed, non-juridical gray zone. That totality is the very essence of totalitarianism. Necessary now though, because, well, coronavirus.” Charles Eisenstein
Eisenstein believes that we can all influence the future – individually and collectively. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing written in stone.
“A more beautiful world shimmers just beneath the surface, bobbing up whenever the systems that hold it underwater loosen their grip.” Charles Eisenstein
Reflecting on the immediate past and how this pandemic has changed my perceptions of the past, present and future. I am, perhaps for the first time in my life, truly living in the moment. I have been practicing it my whole life, preparing for this time, but didn’t realise how much further I had to go, until now. There is always a sensation of needing to rush around, that arises but then subsides when I tell myself that there is no need. I am writing this not necessarily for an audience, but because I want to remember or leave a trace of thought. I think of times and places, meetings and coffees and catch ups with friends, pubs and music, walking along the high street in the old town with live music coming from every pub, people spilling out onto the pavements, raucous laughter, people smoking cigarettes, sharing lighters, hugging, jostling, swaying, singing.
Hastings was always such an amazing anarchic musical place, with Jack in the Green festivals every year, where pagans, Morris dancers, drummers, folk singers, troubadours poured in from all over the country and even from France. Dressed in green and covered in leaves, flowers and garlands. People in medieval wear, giant puppets on stilts, hordes of people singing, dancing and drumming in mile-long parades, making their way up to the castle area, where the festivities would continue, with beer tents, food tents, clothes stalls and dancing and singing. Often windy and even rainy, people would continue undeterred, anaesthetised by beer and merriment. The people of Hastings always knew how to party. There always seemed to be a reason for it. The pram race, pirate day, the old town carnival, the beer festival. I hardly ever participated, and I am not a big drinker at all, and I don’t like crowds or drunk people en masse but I certainly loved going out dancing at a couple of great venues with amazing DJs, and I loved seeing live jazz, with some of the best jazz musicians in the country; world class musicians. I remember so clearly walking through the old town one night only last summer, soaking up the sounds and sights of a summer’s night with live music in absolutely every pub and thinking there was no other place on earth like it. The phrase ‘We didn’t know we were born’ keeps going through my mind. We didn’t know how it could be taken from us, this freedom, this wild abandon, this community, this joy of connection, this vitality, this joie de vivre, this meaningful community, this Life.
Now my perception of the past has changed, the subjective reflections of it will always be the ‘pre-covid’ time. Will these insidious phrases, lockdown, social distancing, self-isolation ever leave our vernacular? Will we ever feel free again, knowing how it can be taken from us? So many questions, and I have no answers. I do not trust governments and I never have, because I know enough about history, but I am aware that I am very careful about sharing my thoughts or buying any narrative off-the-peg. I never have and I never will. I trust my inner knowing. I don’t know whether CV19 came from a lab in Wuhan, or because someone ate a pangolin or a bat from a wet market there, or whether ‘Bill Gates created it and owns the vaccine which will become mandatory’. For sure though, our rushing around the globe on ‘planes spread it far and wide. Our careless attitude towards this beautiful planet. But we never did anything about it when climate scientists warned us, and continue to warn us of how capitalism is destroying the planet. The conspiracy theories abound, and I try to be aware of them without going down the rabbit hole, because like the other Alice, I certainly can do that. Our freedoms can just be revoked. Our fear of death is actually more a fear of life. The ramifications of these lockdowns will definitely be far more insidious and far-reaching than the virus. Although I do not know that for sure. One thing is certain, I do not know anything for sure. I wouldn’t dare have the arrogance to assume I did. But what happens to children behind closed doors when they are locked in with abusive parents? Calls from teens with anxiety to child/teen-helplines have gone through the roof. And women with abusive partners. What happens when a family in Spain who have lost their income leave the house ( only one person allowed) to buy shopping and then is fined six hundred euros for ‘not having enough for a weekly shop’. These are only a very few of a litany of effects, mental and physical, on a locked-in, shut down world. How can it be okay that people in Italy and Spain are not allowed to exercise? For weeks or months.? It is not okay. Not being able to exercise can lead to all the things that become underlying health conditions which make people more vulnerable to covid, like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. That is the most fucked up thing. Whatever this shambles of a British government has done, the only okay thing in all this, is that we are allowed to exercise. But still the virtue-signallers abound. People walk along Hastings seafront wearing masks, thus not breathing in clean sea air, but probably plastic micro-fibres from the masks.
Yesterday I was walking along the Hastings seafront, the first time in weeks, and one woman loudly and pompously announced ‘Isn’t it astounding how many people are out today!’ It was meant for all to hear, so I loudly said ‘And you are one of them.’ People are so quick to descend into Stasi-mode. I immediately think of the film ‘The Lives of Others.’ I decided to return to the countryside and remain here for as long as possible within this time, just going to the farm shop for food. I miss my friends and family terribly. But my family here in our home surrounded by trees and the sound of the sea keep me going, and my painting and teaching online. It is enough.
In spite of everything and my doubts, the peonie growing in my garden tells me all is well. If the peonie in all her brazen flamboyant beauty thrives then so can we. I am focusing on beauty and love.
Recent photos from Hastings and St Leonards, and somebody’s window who clearly believes all the conspiracies going….and my glorious peonie.
Yesterday I climbed down into the bluebell wood above the sea from the cliff path. It’s there only once a year, and the energy from the bluebells is what draws me, combined with the sound of the sea and the trees like guardians. Every year I visit them but it’s quite a difficult climb down, or rather slide. It’s hidden from view. I got tangled in brambles. It dawned on me that brambles are like earth protectors, perhaps trying to keep humans out, the way they grow sideways and along the pathways, trapping us and catching and scratching us. Once there, I lay down on the woodland floor and absorbed the earth energy and looked up at the tree tops. I lay there for ages. Just me, the earth and sea, and bluebells.
Today I am missing my dancing friends. Thinking about all the nights I have spent dancing with friends. There is nothing like it, the way it bonds us. I have been lucky to have had so many of these wonderful nights. As I get older I need it even more, not less. We didn’t know we were born, until they took it away from us. The ability to gather in sacred community and dance our cares away. So I put on ‘World is a Family’ by Louie Vega, and danced around my bedroom, tears pouring down my face, thinking of the last time we all danced together, some time at the end of February. We didn’t know how special that night was. My daughter, sisters, cousins, friends. Thinking about how much I love them. How much I still love life. I am hoping to plan a huge party for when we can dance together again.
The More Beautiful World.
A painting on canvas board. I’ve been painting even more during this pandemic and listening to podcasts by Charles Eisenstein. At first I found it hard to paint under ‘lockdown’ because my energy was scattered. Now I find I am utterly compelled. It keeps me grounded and soothed. I am meditating on the ending of the virus and a more beautiful fair and just world. 💜